I have both a blessing and a curse: My dreams are incredibly vivid and cinematic, and I tend to remember them with quite a degree of detail.
I’ve been this way as long as I can remember. I have pages and pages of middle and high school journals dedicated to the convoluted plots of dreams I’ve had, as well as multiple pages in my current Notes app.
When talking about this with my dad, he phrased it in a way that has stuck with me: when you’re dreaming, your brain is directing a movie, which you’re watching, constructing, and sometimes starring in.
Why does my brain do this? Where does the content come from? Your guess is as good as mine. Here’s a sampling of some of the wonders my unconscious mind has concocted.
In high school, I frequently had dreams that involved me being accused of a crime I didn’t commit and having to steal a car to flee from the authorities or bad guys. This happened at least a half dozen times, if not more. Too much The OC or National Treasure?
I had a dream I was trapped in a school with many of my former classmates, but we were all adults. There was a bomb somewhere in the school, and we couldn’t get out because the school was surrounded by whoever had planted the bomb. I was with a guy (not anyone I recognized) and we were searching for a way out or place to hide all over the school, including trying to climb up a ladder up onto the roof or clearing out metal cabinets to hide in, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull style. Eventually we gave up and had a drink (a dirty gin martini with Tanqueray) at a bar (?) within the school (??) with my 9th grade history teacher (shoutout Mr. Dramby) and my friend Ryan.
Then, we heard helicopters and tanks buzzing outside, and we were given the okay to run like hell outta there. I ran to a nearby hotel, which looked like it was in Disneyland, and used the phone to call my mom since my cell phone had died after being trapped for days. She and my dad came to pick me up (again, sorry to their marriage), and I was standing in my mom’s kitchen talking about what I had been through.
I remember thinking, “This is a dream,” so I attempted to read the titles of my mom’s cookbooks, a trick I learned about from the CBS show Evil (according to the show, the part of your brain that allows you to read doesn’t function when you’re dreaming), and I could read the titles, so I figured I wasn’t dreaming. Later in the dream, I was getting dinner with my friend Meg, and I said, “It really felt like a dream,” and Meg said “You cried so much! It wasn’t!” So both times I was trying to check myself, my brain said nope. I ended up going to sleep in the dream, and that’s when I finally woke up. I was legitimately sore the next day. Wild times.
A week before the previous entry, I had a dream I was trapped in a suburban home with two other humans, and everyone else in the house were vampires that were trying to also turn us into vampires. We ran upstairs into a bedroom, where I tied the belt of a rope around the door, and we went into a walk-in closet inside the room that had a window. I insisted we climb out the window and jump down from the second story as the vampires busted through the first set of doors. Once outside safely, we paused for a second—until the vampires started chasing us… IN BROAD DAYLIGHT.
The twist? These vampires can be outside during the day. They were also super hot—it’s my dream, after all. They also had guns and started shooting at us. We began to run and duck behind cars, and some elderly neighbors gathered outside also had guns and started shooting at the vampires.
A vampire charged at me with a knife which he then dropped, and I picked up. He also had a gun, but a neighbor shot him before he could get me. Were they using special vampire killing bullets? It’s unclear. Then, I noticed my human friends getting dragged back inside by the hot vampires. I circled around the back of the house and climbed in the basement through a window, where I found my friends had already been made into a vampire appetizer, and had some of their blood drained. They were super weak, and I tried to carry them both over my shoulders, but I turned around and we were surrounded by vampires! Then, I woke up. I presume I died and got turned into a vampire. R.I.P. me.
I had this in my notes app but couldn’t find it, and I’m so upset because this was a GOOD ONE. I had a dream that there was something in the vein of The Purge, where a really loud siren went off throughout the day, and when the siren went off, the zombies who co-existed with humans were allowed to attack/kill the humans. Daniel Radcliffe was there, we were running from zombies together.
I can attribute this dream to the fact that I binge-listened to the first season of Uncover, a CBC true crime podcast, which focused on the NXIVM cult. If you’re not willing to listen to several hours about this, it’s the cult that was basically a multi-level marketing scheme where the women got branded.
Allison Mack, who played Chloe on Smallville, a show about a hot teen Clark Kent before he became Superman, was a leader in NXIVM. In my dream, they had announced a reboot of Smallville, and I was auditioning for Chloe. To be fair, Chloe in Smallville is a big nerd who runs the school newspaper and is one of Clark’s best friends. This is not far off from my actual personality, minus a superpowered best friend.
To be clear, I am not an actor. Though, I was in drama club in junior high. I’m still ready for my close up.
I did get a callback in the dream, and ended up in what felt like a hockey arena, and we had to walk along the suspended walkways above the ice. In this moment, I was holding onto the railing, and thought, “Is this a dream?” Again, I tried the trick from Evil and looked at the banners hanging from the rafters. Then, I woke up. There is no reboot of Smallville slated as of now, and I am not auditioning for Chloe in real life.
This was a vivid one from junior high. I was at some kind of assembly or school sanctioned event in a grocery store, and one of my teachers was addressing the crowd and ended the talk by saying “The main reason we’re all here today is to arrest Erin Vail.” The whole crowd turned to look at me. Again, I believe I was being arrested for a crime I did not commit. A chase ensued through the grocery store which culminated in one of my classmates turning into a Cheese Nip and me trying to escape through the stockroom in the back/freezer but getting caught by Anakin Skywalker (styled in my dream as Hayden Christensen). Which leads me to my next category…..
Considering I am thinking about Star Wars upwards of 90 percent of the time, it only makes sense that I would have dreamt about a galaxy far, far away.
A few months before The Rise of Skywalker, I had a dream I was in a movie theater before seeing the film, and saw several stills from the movie set up as poster boards on easels in the theater lobby. The last still was the final shot of the movie, which was Rey and Kylo with their children at the Skywalker homestead on Tatooine, staring up at the twin suns.
Now, this is actually kind of close to how the movie ended, minus Ben Solo (R.I.P.). However, I woke up and became extremely concerned at how heteronormative/maternal that ending would make Rey, an independent Jedi who doesn’t need a man. It still had me freaked out for days.
Days before the title for The Last Jedi dropped, I had a dream I had watched an early cut of the film. Adam Driver was really skinny in it (leftover from the weight loss he underwent for his role in Silence) and Poe Dameron died. I also remember some weird green lava situation, and a lot more Rey/Kylo Force bond/mind stuff. AGAIN, not that far off from the actual movie with that last point. So maybe I’m psychic? Probably not.
But wait! There’s more! Act now, and you can enjoy all these dreams if you just follow @vailerin32 on Twitter!
(1/2) Had a very real dream-NIGHTMARE-that in the 7th Harry Potter movie, Harry was a horror movie villain who designed a 2 level maze…
— Erin Vail (@vailerin32) December 16, 2013
My back was so sore when I woke up this morning. Makes sense, since in my dream I was Batman (fully costumed) fighting EVERY VILLAIN EVER.
— Erin Vail (@vailerin32) January 7, 2013
I guess my sick, twisted mind's way of dealing with stress is to have dreams 2 nights in a row about the Bills losing horrifically #Yup
— Erin Vail (@vailerin32) November 2, 2012
— Erin Vail (@vailerin32) August 29, 2013
Had a stress dream about applying for internships that culminated with me hosting SNL…so I guess that means everything will work out?
— Erin Vail (@vailerin32) February 20, 2014
What's the cooler dream: one where I played in a hockey all-star game vs. Wayne Gretzky & Derek Jeter or one where I almost stole a dog?
— Erin Vail (@vailerin32) September 26, 2014
Mads Mikkelsen was speaking French in my dream last night, 22 is off to an amazing start
— Erin Vail (@vailerin32) June 1, 2015
Sidney Crosby was in my dream last night, I can only take this to mean I'm about to have an terrible week
— Erin Vail (@vailerin32) July 20, 2015
Had a pretty lengthy and intense Harry potter dream.It ended with me waking up within the dream and having to go to swim lessons. #buzzkill
— Erin Vail (@vailerin32) July 24, 2011
me: in 2018 I'm gonna just let things go
also me: woke up feeling EXTREMELY bummed after having a dream I lost a high school soccer game to our most hated rival. I graduated high school in 2011.
— Erin Vail (@vailerin32) January 10, 2018
I should probably just make this an #IncompleteAndGrowingList, considering I have a weird dream at least once a week.
Do you have weird dreams? Please tell me about them, I am extremely interested in people’s brains.